The Sens enter Dallas for the last matchup of a four game road trip that’s seen them beat Vegas, but lose to Washington and Arizona. The Stars are currently in the first wild card spot in the West, with Colorado, St. Louis, and Los Angeles within four points.
Ryan - Pageau - Stone
Dzingel - O’Brien - Pyatt
Gaborik - Smith - Burrows
Claesson - Karlsson
Harpur - Ceci
Borowiecki - Chabot
McCormick, Burgdoefer (extras)
Meanwhile, the Stars have three key injuries — forwards Radek Faksa and Martin Hanzal, in addition to defenceman Esa Lindell. Finn Roope Hintz has been recalled for his first ever NHL action, so expect him to get a goal tonight:
Shore - Janmark - Radulov
Roussel - Spezza - Pitlick
Smith - Dickinson - Elie
Methot - Klingberg
Hamhuis - Pateryn
Johns - Honka
Some other notes for today:
- Guy Boucher noted in his pre-game availability that the team has only really have one line producing all season. Recently, it’s either the Hoffman - Duchene - XXXX combination, or Ryan - Pageau - Stone. Good for Pageau getting some offensive minutes, as he’s been saddled with the Pyatt’s of the world for far too long.
- Ken Hitchcock, in his first year coaching the Stars, had some praise for Guy Boucher’s game plan against Vegas: “A lot of us could have learned a lot of lessons from the way [the Senators] played against Vegas,” Hitchcock said. “That looked like a game plan a lot of people could follow if they’re going to beat Vegas. They played really well against them. If that is the game we are going to get, that’s going to be a tough game for us.” Hired primarily to fix the Stars defensive issues, the team has gotten capable goaltending from Ben Bishop and have allowed the third fewest goals (171) in the Western Conference. Ottawa has allowed 225.
- To his credit, Hitchcock’s heat maps look fantastic, especially when you compare this year to last years. The Stars’ special teams, especially their powerplay, looks fantastic.
- Much of the discussion tonight is going to centre around two ex-Sens. Marc Methot is paired with likely-Norris winner John Klingberg. He’s been kept to only 24 games this season as he’s battled injuries, and if he was still on the Senators, we’d likely be worried about how his body would hold up given his back and hip ailments over the years. He’s one of Dallas’ worst players when it comes to winning the shot share as well.
- Klingberg paces all defencemen with 55 points and a 0.85 PPG. Erik Karlsson in his I-don’t-know-if-he’s-the-same-player down year sits 8 points back — seventh among defencemen.
- The other ex-Sen? Former captain Jason Spezza, who’s starting to slow down a bit. He’s been healthy, suiting up for 64 games, but has only amassed 24 points — down from 50 in 68 games last year. Oft-criticized Bobby Ryan has 26 points (in 44 games) while Ryan Dzingel has 28 (in 62 games).
- Keep your eye on 2014 first round pick Julius Honka. A right-shot, the 22-year-old has only played 30 games this season and has been in and out of the lineup. If I was an NHL team, I’d be trying to buy low on a player who’s ultra talented, but likely stuck in Hitchcock’s doghouse. Hey, Dorion!
Your team and player stats, via NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick:
|Penalty Kill %||76.2||27th||83.3||4th|
|Corsi (5v5, Score & Venue Adjusted)||46.32||29th||53.97||2nd|
|Fenwick (5v5, SVA)||46.94||27th||54.01||1st|
|Goals||Matt Duchene||27||Brad Marchand||34|
|Assists||Erik Karlsson (out)||53||Brad Marchand||51|
|Points||Karlsson/Stone (both out)||62||Brad Marchand||85|
|Shots||Mike Hoffman||253||David Pastrnak||236|
|TOI/GP||Erik Karlsson (out)||26:44||Zdeno Chara||22:53|